Park Hill is getting a coffee shop, and it’s not another Starbucks. On April 3, Dark Side Coffee’s two-way drive-thru location at 4261 JFK Blvd. celebrated its one-year anniversary. Owner Mark Whitehead recently announced in an Instagram post that the company will soon open a second “lounge” location in the former Angry Dave’s Bicycles at 3515 JFK Blvd. Back in January, Angry Dave’s relocated a few blocks south, taking over the space at 3217 JFK Blvd. that housed Collector’s Edition Comics from 1982 until it closed shop last summer.
Dark Side Coffee (named in homage to the dark side of the force in “Star Wars”) will keep its drive-thru location in the North Park Mall parking lot that houses Hobby Lobby, and it will be known as the “express” location. The new lounge location, which Whitehead said in his announcement will open in the next month or sometime before summer, will have a drive-thru (which is pending approval), online ordering, sandwiches and a lounge area with couches and bar seating with free Wi-Fi for customers. Roasting will also be done onsite. Before the drive-thru location opened in the early days of the pandemic last year, Dark Side operated out of a trailer and popped up at places like Bernice Garden and The Rail Yard.
This will no doubt be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, which until recent years with the addition of North Bar, La Casa Real and The Filling Station, hasn’t really been known for its restaurants. That was likely due in part to the ban on alcohol sales that spanned nearly 50 years. Voters reversed the ban in 2013, but that doesn’t explain why there hasn’t been ample places along the southern end of JFK Boulevard for caffeine fixes. I look forward to finally having a cup looking out on JFK Boulevard, which is something I’ve never done despite growing up in North Little Rock and being an avid coffee drinker since fifth grade.